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The self-regulatory organization FINRA and the North American Securities Administrators Association have issued investor alerts about bitcoin.177178

An official investigation into bitcoin traders has been reported in May 2018. The U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation into potential price manipulation, including the techniques of spoofing and scrub transactions.180181182 Traders in the U.S., the U.K, South Korea, and maybe other countries are being investigated. Brett Redfearn, head of the U.S.

The U.S. federal investigation was prompted by concerns of potential manipulation during futures settlement dates. The final settlement price of CME bitcoin futures contract is determined by prices on four exchanges, Bitstamp, Coinbase, itBit and Kraken. Following the first shipping date in January 2018, the CME asked extensive detailed trading information however several of the exchanges refused to supply it and later provided only limited data.

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State and provincial securities authorities, coordinated throughout the North American Securities Administrators Association, are investigating"bitcoin scams" and ICOs in 40 jurisdictions.185

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Academic study published in the Journal of Monetary Economics concluded that price manipulation happened during the Mt Gox bitcoin theft and that the marketplace remains vulnerable to manipulation.186 The background of hacks, fraud and theft involving bitcoin dates back to 2011.187

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Research by John M. Griffin and Amin Shams in 2018 suggests that trading related to increases in the amount of the Tether cryptocurrency and related trading in the Bitfinex exchange account for about half of the purchase price increase in bitcoin in late 2017.188189

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J.L. van der Velde, CEO of both Bitfinex and Tether, denied the claims of price manipulation:"Bitfinex nor Tether is, or has ever, engaged in any sort of market or price manipulation. Tether issuances cannot be used to prop up the amount of bitcoin or any other coin/token on Bitfinex. "190

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The Bank for International Settlements summarized several criticisms of bitcoin in Chapter V of their 2018 annual report. The criticisms include the lack of equilibrium in bitcoin's cost, the high energy consumption, high and variable transactions costs, the bad security and fraud in cryptocurrency exchanges, vulnerability to debasement (from forking), and also the influence of miners.191192193.

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The Economist wrote in 2015 that these criticisms are unfair, predominantly because the shady image may compel users to overlook the capacities of the blockchain technology, but also due to the fact that the volatility of bitcoin is changing in time.194

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been identified as Where Can I Spend Bitcoin economic bubbles by at least eight Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureates, including Robert Shiller,195 Joseph Stiglitz,196 and Richard Thaler.19713 Noted Keyensian economist Paul Krugman wrote in his New York Times column criticizing bitcoin, calling it a bubble and a fraud;198 and professor Nouriel Roubini of New York University called bitcoin the"mother of all bubbles. "199 Central bankers, including former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan,200 investors like Warren Buffett,201202 and George Soros203 have said similar opinions, as have business executives such as Jamie Dimon and Jack Ma.204.

Bitcoin has been criticized for the amount of electricity consumed by mining. As of 2015update, The Economist estimated that even if all miners utilized modern facilities, the combined electricity consumption would be 166.7 megawatts (1.46 terawatt-hours annually ).133

At the end of 2017, the worldwide bitcoin mining activity has been estimated to consume between one and four gigawatts of power.205 Politico noted that the even high-end estimates of bitcoin's total consumption go to website levels amount to only approximately 6 percent of the total power consumed by the international banking industry, and even when bitcoin's consumption levels increased 100 fold from today's levels, bitcoin's consumption would still only amount to approximately 2% of international power consumption.206.

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To lower the costs, bitcoin miners have set up in places like Iceland where renewable energy is economical and cooling Arctic air is free.207 Bitcoin miners are known to use hydroelectric power in Tibet, Quebec, Washington (state), and Austria to reduce electricity costs.206208209210 Miners are attracted to suppliers such as Hydro Quebec who have energy surpluses.211 According to a University of Cambridge study, a lot of bitcoin mining is done in China, where electricity is subsidized by the government.212213.

Various journalists,207214 economists,215216 and the central bank of Estonia217 have voiced concerns that bitcoin is a Ponzi scheme. In 2013, Eric Posner, a law professor at the University of Chicago, stated that"a real Ponzi scheme takes fraud; bitcoin, by contrast, seems more like a collective delusion. "218 A 2014 report by the World Bank concluded that bitcoin was not a willful Ponzi scheme.219:7 The Swiss Federal Council220:21 examined the concerns which bitcoin may be a important site pyramid scheme; it concluded that,"Since in the example of bitcoin the normal guarantees of gains are lacking, it cannot be assumed that bitcoin is a pyramid scheme" In July 2017, billionaire Howard Marks referred to bitcoin as a pyramid scheme.221.

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